When I was in my early twenties, Mum gave me a blue Le Creuset casserole pot. This sounds a bit showy-offy and it absolutely is. A good quality cast iron pot is a beautiful thing and I was really proud to be in possession of it. The most comforting of food has always begun for me in this pot. It was pretty much the only thing I consistently packed and took with me from place to place. I associate it with good times and moving out on my own.
One of the best things you can cook in this pot is lamb shanks. There are any number of things you can do with the shanks once they’ve been slow cooked and meat removed from bones. You can put it into pies, have it under a layer of mashed potato and parmesan cheese, wrap it in puff pastry or freeze it for later when your in-laws are coming to stay and you want to seem like you’ve pulled out all the stops. Make a beautiful gremolata to scatter on top. Make your own pasta to have with it. Or don’t and buy fresh pasta sheets and cut them up (like Jamie does). It’s easy, yet impressive.
If we had made this back in the day when we shared a house, my friend Lozzie and I would have referred to it as a ‘pick-up dish’. Yes it is what it sounds like. You could successfully woo someone with this dish (hello boys…). Or you could feed about ten without breaking a sweat. These are qualities I very much admire in a recipe – romance and extendability.
Slow cooked lamb shanks with pappardelle
Ingredients (serves four )
2 medium sized onions (diced)
4 garlic cloves (minced)
3 rashers of bacon (chopped)
4 lamb shanks (3 if they’re the freakishly large ones)
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans tomatoes
at least 1 glass of red wine
5 small carrots
1 long stick of celery (finely sliced)
sprig of thyme
sprig of rosemary
2 pinches freshly ground pepper
1 packet of fresh lasagne sheets
Get your cast iron pot out and heat up one tablespoon of olive oil on a medium heat
Sautee the onions, garlic, bacon, celery , chopped herbs and pepper for about fifteen minutes
In a separate frying pan, heat another tablespoon of olive oil, make those shanks golden brown and then add to the pot
Chop the carrots lengthways and then into longish chunks. Poke these in and around the shanks
Add the tomatoes. It will start to look really full. This is ok
Add as much wine as possible in the leftover space
Cook for four hours at 180 degrees with the lid on. Check every hour or so to scrape the sides and check the liquid level has not dropped too low (it shouldn’t though)
When cooked, remove the shank bones, stir everything up and add salt to taste
Cut fresh pasta sheets into thick pappardelle . Stir some of the lamb through the pasta but withhold at least a third to spoon on top
Serve with grated Parmesan and gremolata.